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150-200 People Pack Ross Planning Commission Meeting for Hearing on Heartland Homes Plan for Highland Country Club

Nearby residents said they are worried most about the increased traffic created by 300 new homes.

An attorney for the new owner of the former Highland Country Club, and an landscape architect laid out plans for a 300 home development before the Ross Township Planning Commission and a skeptical audience of 150-200 residents Thursday night.

Attorney Jonathan Kamin began the presentation by explaining the details of a plan approved Tuesday by a federal bankruptcy judge. The key points: 

  • All creditors of the bankrupt country club would be paid in full.
  • Memorabilia still inside the clubhouse would be returned to its rightful owner, or preserved.
  • Former members of the country club would be compensated.

Steven Victor, of the landscape architecture firm Victor-Wetzel, then outlined how the land would be carved up for 300 single-family and townhomes. The key points:

  • 130 single family homes ranging in price from $350,000 - $500,000.
  • 170 Townhouses priced in the low $200,000 range.
  • 2 entrances along Highland Avenue leading to the single family homes.
  • 2 entrances along Gass Road and 1 along Golf Drive leading to the townhomes.
  • Each home and townhome will have a 2-car garage and a driveway large enough for 2 additional vehicles.
  • A traffic study will be conducted, in conjunction with PennDOT and Ross Township police to determine what changes may be necessary to mitigate the impact of the increased number of vehicles from the development.

After questions from members of the Planning Commission, members of the audience had their say.

"With all of this extra traffic, it's going to be pretty bad," said one resident who lives near the intersection of Petunia Avenue and Golf Drive. 

"Why can't you just put in 120 houses, you can't pay off the debt with that," questioned another resident. "Why can't you spread them out?"

Kamin argued that number of homes is deceiving, because of the size of the property.

"Keep in mind it's a 117 acre site, so you're talking about less than three homes an acre, if you average it out over the course of the site," he said. "If you look at the typical density of an urban community, it's like five per acre or six per acre, so the 300 home number is obscured by the fact that the site is so enormous." 

Another Peony Avenue resident echoed the concerns about traffic. "I cannot pull out of my driveway in the morning to take my son to school," she said. "The traffic studies don't do anything. People fly off of Gass Road; I've nearly gotten rear-ended numerous times. You're going to add 300 homes, two car garages, that's 600 cars. Where is it all going to go?

A woman who lives along Lilac Avenue feared the price of the new homes would ultimately raise her taxes. "You are going to price me out of my own neighborhood. I wish you wouldn't go through this, I mean it's all about the money and it's sickening," she said.

Member of the Planning Commission plan to visit the site, and await the results of the traffic study before taking any action. They will discuss the development again at their next meeting on Dec. 20.

It's ultimately up to the Ross Township board of commissioners to approve this preliminary plan. It will go before the commissioners on Jan. 7.

What do you think of this plan? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Cheryl B. November 30, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Can't help but notice, the Wellington Ave. residents of West View will get a view of the larger lot, highest end homes, while we who live off the Gass Rd. side will get a view of elbow-to-elbow townhouses.
K J November 30, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Heartland Homes is only interested in $$$$. They put up a poor quality home and wreck havoc on the environment, i.e. Reis Run Rd. Ross Twp. needs to step up and demand Heartland Homes, and all future builders, put in a quality neighborhood with sidewalks, playgrounds and landscaping. Ross needs quality not quantity.
MDNR_Mom November 30, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Heartland is attacking Lawrenceville with similar high-end townhomes. Soon there will be no place for the average homeowner to live in the city or the 'burbs. What about the impact on the recently renovated Highcliff Elementary (http://www.nhsd.net/Highcliff.cfm?subpage=36562)? The entire district was recently reworked based on specific growth numbers, which are conveniently no longer available on www.nhsd.net, which did not account for this type of rapid growth in 1 elementary school "zone". I am glad the Highland GC is going to be renovated, but I think there is a better use for the space, than all those buildings, cars and people.
Virgough December 03, 2012 at 10:44 AM
A disaster waiting to happen. Aside from the traffic nightmare, the overuse of the water and sewer systems hasn't been addressed. All those lawns full of chemicals being watered, six hundred cars being washed on the weekends, toilets being flushed constantly. The sprawl in our area is sickening. We long time residents love this area because of the green space and modest development. "Heartland" has no heart ... It's all about greed. I sincerely hope the commission rejects this project as the impact upon our community is negative. Nobody I've discussed this with is in favor of this "development" ... we hate it.
Claire Munshaw December 07, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Will the Elementary Schools be overcrowded since the will be more children moving into the District? Concerned about my grandchildren's education. CRM
Linda R. Folmer January 08, 2013 at 03:12 PM
How is this area going to handle all of these people, cars, and buildings? It is absolutely going to ruin this nice neighborhood. What a nightmare!
Lori Meinert January 08, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Vote No! From all the concerns and reality of this project, the only one who will win is Heartland Homes.

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